Accepted Paper:

Micropolitics of indigeneity and education in Mexico: indigenous professionals making school  


Rosa Isela Aguilar Montes de Oca (LMU Munich, Germany)

Paper short abstract:

The ethnography analyses the identity, and educational micropolitics of indigenous intelligentsia in Mexico who did not assimilated to the mestizo. The question is if and how nation-state is made from the margins.

Paper long abstract:

Mexican nationalism from the 19th and 20th centuries pretended to homogenize the population creating a mestizo identity and culture through compulsory education. This cultural politics changed in 1992, when the Political Constitution was amended, and Mexico changed into a multicultural and multilingual nation. The cultural project produced a bipolarity tradition-modernity and the impossibility to combine indigenous and professional in one single person. In spite of a very limited access to education there is a growing number of professionals who identify themselves as indigenous since decades who graduated in both academic programs for indigenous and for non-indigenous.

This ethnography analyzes the meaning and representation of indigenous professionals based on the assumption that the national, regional, local, ethnical, gender and generational identities are mutually constructed within the endless construction of nation-state (Canessa 2005). The second assumption is that nation-state is a cultural negotiation and an ethnical social closure (Wimmer 2002).

The study analyzes how some indigenous professionals negotiated their politics of indigeneity and education during the school process, how they represent themselves socially and symbolically in the cities versus their non-indigenous colleagues, how they represent themselves socially and symbolically in their places of origin versus their indigenous rural and non-professional mates, if they become cultural brokers, if they develop new cultural, indigenous identity politics or discourses within their laboral space, and if the meaning and representation of urban indigenous professionals changed after the amendments of the national cultural policies.

Panel P026
Indigenous futures and anthropological renewals